I imagine you’ve all read or heard in the news the expose’ on what’s happening within the Southern Baptist Church in their mishandling and covering up of abuse inside their ranks. It’s heartbreaking and sinful. It’s everything that’s against justice, truth, and the heart of God.
But the good news is that change is coming. Slow, painful, but it is coming. Here is a link to the response for the breaking news from JD Greear, head of the denomination.
Pray for them and the changes that all pastors of all denominations will need to make to create a culture of safety and truth where victims can share their story and be heard and protected. I am part of a team that is writing curriculum for Southern Baptist pastors and ministry leaders on how to see and biblically
If you have the ear of your pastor or elders, please pass on JD Grear’s response to these horrific charges. It shows humility, repentance and a willingness to rebuild shattered trust.
Today’s Question: How do you acknowledge the truth of what someone is doing to you and emotionally accept it when you are in a destructive relationship? Getting banged on the leg over and over is exhausting and painful. I acknowledge that I am being banged on the leg and that the banging is causing me to go limp and that pain is excruciating to my heart and soul.
I have acknowledged the truth, emotionally accepted that I can have no expectations at all from the other person. This process has yielded the destruction of my personhood. How do you apply these concepts in a destructive relationship? My main goal is to gain wisdom and understand so that one day when I sit before God he will say well done good and faithful servant. I don’t want to disappoint God because my heart and mind did what they wanted instead of what God wanted. Help?
Answer: I’m not sure if you’re using a metaphor when you describe being banged on the leg or you are actually being banged on the leg, but acknowledging the truth of someone’s abusive behavior toward you and also accepting that they aren’t willing to change (yet) is an important part of your own emotional and mental health. Healthy people live in reality, not in fantasy. They acknowledge what is, not what they wish it would be.
That being the case, what do you do when your spouse is hurting you and won’t stop? That is the reality you live with day after day and you’re right, it is intolerable,
I think as Christians we have often misunderstood Biblical love to mean that when someone treats us abusively, we quietly suffer without protest or consequence, and simply turn the other cheek over and over again. But when Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39), he never said we shouldn’t avoid mistreatment, but simply that we were not to retaliate against it. He didn’t want us to become abusive in return. But Jesus did leave situations when he knew people were trying to harm him.
Allowing someone who we are in an intimate relationship with to continue to hurt and mistreat us isn’t biblical love, but fear and foolishness. We’re afraid to stand up to it because we don’t want to make things worse. We’re afraid that God will be displeased with us or we don’t have a good plan on what to do next if the abuse escalates. So we suffer silently and think that is God’s will. However, I think God and biblical love call us to do something far more courageous. But just as Jesus warned, that kind of love often involves suffering and sacrifice.
To love our spouse or an abuser in these kinds of situations, we must be willing to boldly (not disrespectfully) speak the truth to him (or her) about the sinfulness of the behavior and the effects on you, your marriage and even your spouse.
You indicated that the abuse is destroying your personhood and you’re right, but it’s also destroying his. This is not who God made him
If you choose to give this gift of truth to your husband, he may retaliate with more abuse. When you love him enough to seek his true good it may cost you. Much like jumping into an icy pond to save a drowning child, God calls us to lay down ourselves for another person’s welfare (John 15:13). But the bible doesn’t ask us to lay ourselves down to enable someone to continue in sin. That wouldn’t be good for them or for us.
If your husband is unresponsive and unrepentant to your gift of loving truth, I would also be prepared to give the gift of consequences. Consequences (not punishment) can be a powerful teacher of life’s truths. If you plant weeds, don’t expect roses (Galatians 6:7). In other words, when you are abusive toward people, don’t expect a happy and loving marriage to result.
So let me map out how this might look like for you. You need to ask God to give you the courage to love your husband enough to speak the truth to him about what his attitudes and behaviors are doing to you, to him and to your marriage. You also need to have a plan in place as to how you will be safe if he retaliates against your gift of truth with more abuse. (For free help implementing a safety plan you can call the Domestic Abuse hotline at 1-799 SAFE).
But know this: God hates abuse and will empower you with the right words and right spirit to deliver them. We all have been taught that the Bible says God hates divorce but we forget God also hates a man covering himself with violence (Malachi 2:13-16).
God has a tender heart for those who are oppressed by bullies.
When you take this step, if your husband refuses to hear you, repent, and get help to change his behavior, then I would encourage you to take the next step and give him the gift of consequences. In other words, your message is this:
“Our marriage is so destructive to you, to me and to our children, I cannot continue to live this way or provide the benefits of married life without significant change.”
Separation may be necessary so he experiences the pain of his sin by losing his family life. Sometimes painful consequences are the only thing that wakes us up enough to put in the hard work necessary to change our destructive ways.
You asked God for wisdom. You want what God wants. God says he generously gives his wisdom to anyone who asks for it (James 1:5). Hear me. God wants you to honor your commitment to him and your husband by loving well. God wants your husband to repent, to change, and to learn to love also. God isn’t asking you to be a “peace at any price” woman. As a wife, you have a unique opportunity to partner with God to be an extraordinary helpmate to your husband so that he will see his sin, repent, change, and grow into the man God made him
If he hardens his heart and refuses to listen, please know that God understands your disappointment and pain. Much of the Old Testament is that very story of God implementing tough love with Israel and Israel refusing to repent.
God calls you to unconditional love, unconditional forgiveness, and unconditional kindness, but he never asks you to have an unconditional relationship or unconditional reconciliation with someone, especially when he or she is repeatedly abusive and unrepentant toward you. Click To Tweet
Friends, when you woke up to the truth, what were your first steps to gain greater safety for yourself?